John Perkins: A Biblical Response Towards Race and Reconciliation
Greenville College had the great honor of hosting Civil Rights icon, and Christian leader, Dr. John Perkins, and his grandson (Big John) on campus. Throughout the week, a plethora of events were offered to the campus and the community. Among them, I was fortunate to attend 3: The Selma screening and conversation, Vespers with Big John, and a colloquium held in Ladue.
With the help of faculty Eugene Dunkley and Rick Mcpeak, the movie Selma was shown multiple times at the Globe Theater without charge. Preceding the screening of Selma, a panel discussion was held. It included GC alumni Vernon Gee, Dr. Craig Boyd, professor of Ethics at SLU, and of course Dr. Perkins along with his Grandson Big John.
Throughout this event, the panel discussed a breadth of subjects including but not limited to Ferguson, social justice, racial tension in America, and the economics of injustice as well as the Christian response to injustice. The gist of it is that reconciliation needs to take place.
According to Dr. Perkins, reconciliation plays a big factor because Christians aren’t doing their job. Christians are supposed to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” Meaning that not only are Christians meant to read the biblical text, but have a calling to live it out. That means involving oneself in issues of the world, and tackling these difficult issues with love and biblical justice.
Furthermore, Christianity is an active faith, not passive. Dr. Perkins stated, “When you know truth and don’t do it, you create the possibility of demon activity in society.”
Later on that night, during Vespers, Big John gave a passionate sermon on what it means to “love thy neighbor as thyself.’ This sermon was held in the Dinning Commons, and every word was loud and clear. He spoke about how loving others should reflect the same love and care you would give your own body. He also shared his own personal story and experience with this concept.
The most pivotal point during last week took place when I spent a few hours sitting next to Dr. Perkins following the colloquium- just listening to him. He asked me about what was on my mind and recognized me from the panel discussion. As he spoke, what struck the most was not his wisdom, although there was plenty there, but it was this sense of love that oozed from his presence, and actions towards me. He imparted wisdom out of a deep love within himself. Believing that in order to create lasting change in this broken world, all Christians must be able to speak out of that same kind of love reservoir that Dr. Perkins taps into.
During his stay here, Dr. Perkins motivated many students to go out into the world to tackle these deep issues and not to forget to impart justice with love. It’s not about our own force, but the force working through us that changes things. Let us not forget whose hands and feet we represent. Let’s be brave and allow God to work through us and make the world more than just place.